This section is from the book "Hunting: A Manual of Fox, Hare, Stag & Otter Hunting", by J. Otho Paget. Also available from Amazon: Hunting: A Manual of Fox, Hare, Stag & Otter Hunting.
You may occasionally have some good gallops in cub-hunting, and, of course, that is what your field will desire ; but you must not study either your own inclinations or theirs. Your duty is, first of all, to make the pack, and then to kill all the worst or weakest foxes. If in pursuance of these duties a good run does fall to your lot, you will not enjoy it the less because it was unexpected.
Let us picture to ourselves a morning in early September, which shall be your first appearance with the horn. Since last May you have been looking forward to this moment with the most intense eagerness, and now it has arrived. By judicious feeding and plenty of exercise, your pack are full of muscle and in the best of wind ; whilst by continually riding out with them they have grown to look on you as their master, whom it is their pleasure to love and obey. The good or bad qualities of the old hounds are to you an unknown quantity ; but you have procured one or two ancient warriors, drafted on account of age, and on these you hope to depend in times of difficulty. Out of the twenty-six couple with which you intend to hunt this two-days-a-week country, twelve couple are unentered, and with these as a foundation you expect some day to form a good pack.
I must digress here for a moment to refer to a matter which I overlooked in discussing the subject under the heading of ' The Hound.' In a two-days-a-week country, which is all the amateur beginner should aspire to at first, you will want only one pack ; and if you like to see your hounds level, you will not run twenty-four-inch dogs with twenty-two-inch bitches. My advice would be to limit your standard to twenty-two inches, have nearly all bitches, and go to other kennels for stallion hounds. Most kennels draft some small dogs every year, and you would often be able to get very smart hounds in this way: though you would not use them as stallions, they would very materially increase the strength of the pack. Twenty-six couple are quite sufficient for two days a week ; and out of that number I would have at least seven couple of dog-hounds, so that you would not be short in the spring. I am supposing that you have to consider economy in your establishment, and, of course, the more hounds you keep the greater the expense.
There have been sufficient rains to lay the summer dust, and there is a slight yielding on the surface of the turf, as a horse canters along.
A goodly shower the previous day has left the grass still moist, and there is a delicious coolness in the air. It is barely daylight when you ride up, and after posting your men at different corners, you throw hounds into covert. We will suppose you have had no reliable information about litters in your few large woods, and the place you are about to draw is ten acres of blackthorn and gorse in the middle of your best country. Though you will probably have no use for a second horse, let them come out, and the men may be of use to you in assisting the whips. Another hint : before you leave home, make a good breakfast, however early the hour, or you will probably be tired before your fox. You are drawing down-wind, so that there should be no danger of chopping an old fox, and riding into the thickest part, you encourage the young hounds to try. Old one-eyed Solomon from the York and Ainsty is busily snuffling at a tuft of grass, probably where a fox stopped a minute on his way to his kennel. The little tan dog from Belvoir forces his way through the narrow smeuse, and then makes a dash at the clump of briers that are interwoven with long grasses. There is a flash of bright red fur, and a white tag disappears in the thicket beyond. A cheer from your lips and a blast on the horn brings all the old hounds to the spot. The melody soon increases in volume, and in a few minutes every hound seems to be throwing his tongue. Some of the young ones have already joined in, and the rest are following on with the excitement of the cry. Keep quiet now, and don't halloa if you see the fox, whilst they are running well. Listen! there are two or three scents, the tail hounds have crossed the line of other foxes, but the majority of the old hounds still stick to their first-love, and are bustling him round the covert with an echoing crash of music. It must be the dog-fox, and he will very soon have to leave, but at present he thinks the pack are too near to make it safe. There is a sudden lull—now he is away, and you hear the hoof-beats of the whip's horse as he gallops down ready to stop hounds should they come out. Your orders were to stop hounds and let all foxes go. Now blow your horn and take this lot of hounds to where the others are running at the further side of the covert, but if they can hear the cry, they will soon get there without your help. There is music from every quarter, and the litter are now all afoot. That smart young bitch you had from the Cottesmore—Gillson thought her not quite straight—has met a cub in the ride, has suddenly recognised her mission in life, and is dashing through the undergrowth in pursuit. Sit quiet, bide your time, and don't halloa, but watch the rides carefully. There is a rare scent this morning, and unless the cubs go soon, some of them will lose their lives, but at present, by dodging about, they manage to shift the burden of pursuit on to one another's shoulders in turn, and thus get some respite. See! yonder across the ride goes the old vixen, looking thin and anxious, followed by a sleek cub, whom she wishes to lead away to safety. Let them go, there are more left behind ; but one of your field has just come in to tell you, a brace of old foxes and a leash of cubs have gone away, so that you must take care the last does not get away without your knowing it. ' Tally-ho, gone away !' is heard on the down-wind side, and to your question of ' What is it ?' the answer comes back, ' The old vixen and a cub, sir.' All right ; you are thinning them out, and you may begin to cheer the pack over the rides, but get forward and have a look at what you are hunting. Stand quiet and watch. The cry comes nearer, there is a stealthy pattering on the leaves, and the next second, a fine big cub with a white tag leaps lightly across. What a disappointment! You expected after an hour of incessant running to see a weary cub drag himself across, and this fine fellow is evidently fresh from his kennel ; but wait and still watch. Close on the heels of the first, and following the same track, comes another cub ; but how different he looks, as with bent brush and hanging tongue he steals over the ride. You have noted, however, an important point: the fresh cub's brush is boldly tipped with white, whereas the tired one has no such mark. Send word to the watchers outside to let hounds go when the one without a white tag leaves, but to stop them from any other. Now have your first whip inside with you and let him watch a ride, whilst you with horn and voice cheer on the pack to greater exertions. The fresh cub has gone away, and the one that remains behind ought to fall an easy victim ; but the ground is becoming foiled and scent is failing. The cry, which has been gradually becoming less, has stopped altogether, the young hounds stand about with their heads in the air, and the old ones seem quite willing to give up the game. Ride into that quarter of the covert where the fox was last seen, and encourage your hounds to find him again. He is probably lying down, and will not move if he can possibly help it. Old ' Resolute' has put him up at last, and the next second a ' tally-ho over' tells you where he has crossed the ride. Gallop to that spot in all haste with the hounds your voice can collect, and lay them on where he crossed.